We asked Jasper Jones actors Hugo Weaving and Aaron McGrath to name their top Australian films – here’s what they answered when put on the spot.
TEN CANOES (HUGO WEAVING)
“Ten Canoes would be one of mine. It would probably be my number one. It’s just very funny. Rolf de Heer’s a great filmmaker. It’s entirely unique, David Gulpilil’s doing the voiceover. There’s a lot of good reasons.”
Ten Canoes is a collaboration between de Heer and the Yolgnu people of Ramingining – and the first feature film in an Aboriginal language. In it, a man tells us one of the ancient stories of his people, involving 150 spears, 10 canoes, three wives and a whole lot of trouble. Available to watch on Ozflix, Stan, Dendy Direct and more. (See our interview with Rolf de Heer about his writing process HERE)
RABBIT-PROOF FENCE (AARON MCGRATH)
“Because of the story. It’s beautiful.”
Rabbit-Proof Fence tells the story of three Aboriginal girls who ran away from Moore River Native Settlement in 1931, determined to walk more than 2,000km back to their families using the rabbit-proof fence as a guide. It’s based the book by Doris Pilkington Garimara and the true story of what happened to her mother as a child. The film is widely used in schools across Australia to teach students about the Stolen Generation and the impact of removing children from their families during the White Australia Policy years. Directed by Phillip Noyce, it is available to watch on iTunes, Dendy Direct and Quickflix.
WAKE IN FRIGHT (HUGO WEAVING)
This dark thriller directed by Canadian Ted Kotcheff has become a cult classic in the 46 years since it was made and is considered by many to be a masterpiece. Adapted from Kenneth Cook’s 1961 novel, it follows English schoolteacher John Grant (Gary Bond), whose overnight stop in the fictional town “the Yabba” en route to Sydney descends into a five-night binge of drinking, gambling, roo shooting and madness. A young Martin Scorsese saw it at Cannes Film Festival, where it was in the running for the Palme d’Or, and said “it left me speechless.” The film stars Jack Thompson in his first big screen role and legend Chips Rafferty in his last, and was restored by the National Film and Sound Archive in 2009. Last year it was announced Network Ten would be reimagining the story for a TV mini-series, directed by Kriv Stenders (Red Dog). Available on Stan, Ozflix and more.
SUNDAY TOO FAR AWAY (HUGO WEAVING)
This classic from the film renaissance of the 70s starred Jack Thompson as Foley, a sheep shearer working on a remote station in 1956. Directed by Ken Hannam in his feature film debut, it looked at a group of hard yakka shearers big on the drink, who rally together to go on strike and fight for better conditions in a tough Outback landscape.
THE BOYS (HUGO WEAVING)
The feature film debut for director Rowan Woods (Little Fish, The Kettering Incident) and producer Robert Connolly (Paper Planes, Tim Winton’s The Turning), this chilling suburban thriller starred a then largely-unknown David Wenham, alongside Tropfest founder John Polson, Anthony Hayes and Toni Collette. Adapted from the play of the same name, it follows Brett Sprague (Wenham) who’s released from prison and reunited with his two brothers and troubled family, where tensions and anger veer toward a horrific conclusion. Available on Netflix and iTunes.
ANIMAL KINGDOM (HUGO WEAVING)
The feature film directorial debut from David Michod about a Melbourne crime family premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2010, where it won the Grand Jury Prize, and went from strength to strength. It culminated in a 2011 Academy Award nomination for Jacki Weaver, helping to launch her US career as well as those of Joel Edgerton and Ben Mendelsohn (most recently seen in Star Wars: Rogue One). In Animal Kingdom, the recently orphaned 17-year-old J (James Frecheville) goes to live with his estranged grandmother Smurf (Weaver), the matriarch of the Cody crime family. The film follows J as he navigates life in the Cody family, while a detective (Guy Pearce) tries to draw him away from a life of crime. Available on Ozflix, Stan and more.
JASPER JONES (AARON MCGRATH & HUGO WEAVING)
Naturally Weaving and McGrath couldn’t go past Jasper Jones. “Of course. Don’t you reckon?” Weaving said. “I think so,” McGrath replied, laughing.
Based on the acclaimed book by Craig Silvey (who also helped write the screenplay), it stars Levi Miller (RED DOG: True Blue) as Charlie Bucktin, a bookish boy who lives in a tiny Western Australian town in 1956. One night, the town’s outcast Jasper Jones (McGrath) shows him the dead body of a local girl and asks for help in finding the murderer. And so Charlie sets out to uncover the truth during one scorching summer and does some growing up in the process. Directed by Rachel Perkins (Bran Nue Dae) it also stars Toni Collette, Dan Wylie and Angourie Rice.
Jasper Jones releases in Australian cinemas on 2 March. It is distributed by Madman Pictures.